Hello, Surgeons and Dollmakers!
It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I know it’s hard, but I’m sure you can do this. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to pull yourself together. But maybe this time, you can use something stronger than just your hands and some bandaids, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Stitching Yourself Back Together
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
When we hear “stitching”, we think of sewing. Needles and thread. Very simple tools, yet they can do so much. From a tiny repair in a hem line to making an entire garment. So what would it mean to stitch ourselves back together?
Well, stitching is a form of repair here. Stitching ourselves back together means that we were previously broken or had fallen apart in one way or another. Everyone’s heard the phrase “pull yourself together”, but this is looking at what to do once you have reassembled yourself. It looks at finding a way to keep yourself together.
This could be in the form of someone going through a really tough breakup. Their heart is in thousands of pieces, possibly even a piece for each day spent in that relationship. The thread they use to fix themselves could be the words of comfort and care spoken by friends and family, or maybe this thread is made of ice cream. It becomes a question of which thread would hold stronger? Ice cream melts, whereas words can stick with you forever. Maybe this story is about someone facing their fears. Every time they’ve faced it before, they’ve come undone and been too afraid to confront these things. Perhaps their thread is made of videos and articles researching this phobia. Maybe the first stitch wasn’t even done by them, but by someone else who pushed them to face these fears.
Maybe we take this prompt literally; perhaps it’s about a doll, long since forgotten by their human. Their fabric has greyed, their stitching has frayed and weakened. They can stay like that and let time take them, or they can find the sewing kit and repair themselves to prepare for a new owner. Maybe this prompt is simply about a surgeon who had a woopsie with a scalpel and just takes a few minutes to sew up the wound.
Whatever the case may be, we look forward to it. So go forth with your needle and thread, and weave yourself into a tapestry of words unlike any other.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
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What to Submit
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325 words – robertoface (first time!)
Spending a week with the Granny Square changed my entire perspective of getting quilted: but all-expenses-paid or not, I don’t think it would have lasted if he hadn’t been there.
I was surprised to see Desmond Curro in the lobby, now bespectacled and a foot taller from wen I last saw him at youth club, but no less recognisable. Whilst Granny Hallgate pressed a mug of tea into his hands, he beckoned me over with a coy grin.
We sat together, visiting nostalgia whilst others arrived. As Granny Salahie seated a new arrival nearby, I couldn’t hold back any longer: “Gotta ask, how come you’re here? I thought your parents are, like, attached of the National Spool, right?”
“My dad and his family,” Desmond corrected, “but you’re right. We’re all tangled up, mom and dad, Jenni and mom, our cousins… the Interweave keep us all connected, even when we’re apart, y’know?”
“So what happened?”
“Well, I, uh, I got booked in to be cast on, and I… I just couldn’t, y’know? Like, the stitches wouldn’t take. The seamsmith was lovely, but-”
He grimaced. Granny Salahie was listening, which meant they were all listening. I whispered: “But what?”
“It was just really intrusive, y’know? The questions made me feel stupid. First time? Do you want this? You need to relax… all that crap. Anyway.” He waved a hand as if the rest was obvious. “How ’bout you?”
“Guess I lost faith in it when my parents came unstitched,” I began. “They unravelled just before I turned fifteen, and their marriage collapsed soon after.”
Desmond winced. “Sorry. Didn’t know.”
That pang in my gut. There was more to it. While my school friends whooped and giggled about casting on with friends and crushes, I researched how to bind myself off, quietly cursing the dismal crumbs of information allowed through the mesh of the school intranet firewalls.
But this wasn’t his to know. Nor the Grannies. Not yet.
Stitching Yourself Back Together
My right shoulder itched miserably where my arm should have been. The events of its loss are still fresh in my mind, and I have become irritable and impatient without my dominant hand. Was it worth it? I suppose. At the time I had no ulterior motives, but actions in life have consequences.
Drakes, like daemons, can make pacts with humans in exchange for power, but drakes ask for blood rather than souls. The more vital the blood, the more powerful the bond. My actions had unintentionally bound me to Conrad, and I nearly hated him for it.
“Rubbing it won’t make it grow back.” Conrad’s deep voice rumbled from the corner.
I sullenly drop my hand, and return to my pitiful attempt at writing. After my bond was formed I was chased out of my hometown, no surprise there. I did not think my family would bother reading my letter, but I wanted to write to them anyway. I missed them
My letters were clumsy and my hand could not properly grasp the stylis, it had taken me the better part of an hour to get as far as I had, and I had not written half of what I wanted to say. Each letter was a painful reminder of loss, each clumsy scrawl a mocking display of my current state. I scream in anguish and throw the stylis in unfettered rage against the nearest wall.
“That was unnecessary.” Conrad drawled, unperturbed “Now you will have to go retrieve it.”
“What is the point?” My words pour from my mouth in acrid self loathing “What is a cripple like me going to accomplish with these halfhearted efforts?”
Conrad and I stared, the silence cocooning us in tension, before he slowly walked over to pick up my stylis in his too large claws.
“You are not a cripple.” His reply was so soft it was nearly a purr. “You have lost a great deal, but you, YOU, are whole. Do not let your pain deceive you.”
He places the stylis at my feet and returns to his corner without another word.
By ThatWeirdFish, reviewed by Specter
The red thread didn’t match. Of course, it couldn’t. That particular dye was exclusive to her homeland. The stitching, however… Nivani paused with her hand poised to make another stitch. Her eyes darted between the small, tight stitches of her mother and her amateurish ones. Her mother’s friendly chiding echoed in her mind.
“If you spent as much time with a needle as with those scrolls you would be the best embroider of the family.”
She still remembered her mother’s smile.
Nivani frowned and attempted the petal stitch again. She stitched silently, losing the sense of time as she embroidered. Over, under. In, out. Curves here, hatching there. Slowly the ribbon of flowers traced its way unsteadily down the pants leg.
As her hands worked, her mind drifted back to those quiet afternoons. When the women of the family sat in the shade during the heat of the day. Her mother, her grandmother, her aunts, even her great grandmother embroidered then. Her sisters and cousins stitched as well but were more interested in the latest gossip than refining their craft. There were days she wanted to join them. But… her uncle’s work was so fascinating. Recording stories on scrolls instead of cloth. And learning how to read those stories… how to learn about the world beyond the golden sea…
Only when Chaser touched her shoulder gently did she notice how close to crying she was.
“Are you okay? You’ve been at this all night.”
“I have…?” Nivani’s shoulders drooped when she looked through the window to see the dim blue sky of early morning. She looked back at the pant’s leg she was repairing. There was still so much to do…
“There’s still a few hours before breakfast so you can-”
“No. I need to finish this.” She picked up the needle again and started stitching.
“Nivani…” Chaser said gently. “I know how much this means to you but… repairing this won’t bring her back.”
Nivani stopped. She then stared at her mother’s handiwork with heavy eyes. “I know.”
Woods of snarled roots, painful paths, and darkened hallows swallowed an old soldier. His uniform hung torn and dishevelled, and his eyes sought no end. He stumbled through brush and branch, giving no mind to his path. There shone no light by which to see, and he cared not; he lost himself in the darkness.
The dark, dark, darkness.
And the deep, deep, loneliness.
Years passed, or minutes. Long he wandered, or brief.
He felt empty.
Suddenly, his foot snagged on a stray root, and he fell.
His eyes snapped into awareness. An endless chasm, a shard of the dark infinitudes beyond, flew by.
Flailing in the fall. Reaching. Reaching. Reaching.
Smiles to ash, fire and slaughter, brothers dead, swords upheld, promises made, honour to failure, bravery to cowardice, confrontation to flight, together… alone. Last.
He slammed into stone. His arm cracked and his bones crunched. Streaks of pain scorched his body. He gargled thick blood, struggling to breathe. His chest burned; he clenched his knuckles, digging nails into flesh. He coughed blood desperately. His chest screamed and the soldier’s mind tore itself apart.
He wheezed and gasped the air.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Blood. Darkness. Despair.
He gritted his teeth, wincing at his wounds, and lifted teary eyes. Around him rose a grove of graves.
A dozen decaying arms rose from the dirt, fingers like claws reaching for him. He knew them… hated them… loved them. They called. Penance, he knew. Submit to judgment; bear his sins.
So, into the reaching arms he went, his self given away, him to them and them to him. To join them, become like them. To the silence evermore.
Yet, as he gave himself to the arms, they held him back. They kept him above ground. Arms as armour embraced him, comforted him, strengthened him, defying the darkness and ushering in the light.
They loved him and forgave him.
Memories of the fallen wove as stitches into his flesh.
He held the thread and did not let go.
“Broken Shards and Fated Strings.”
By: Lydia Santiago
Flickering yellow sparks illuminate the barren room void of almost anything, except for the streaks of red hanging in the ceiling and all throughout the room. Attached to it akin to marionettes is a humanoid figure with a light bulb for a head, well what remains of the shattered remains of it anyways scattered about..
The figure stir’s picking up the pieces of shattered glass, ignoring the prickling feeling beneath her skin staining her hand’s. Regret, Anger, Resentment, Guilt, Self loathing, all too familiar with the pieces. It’s not the first time she has shattered every argument, every doubt will tear a crack at her head until it breaks onto the uncaring floor.. The red strings tangle at the seams in a life-like manner and like magic stitches the pieces back together.
But for how much longer? This cycle continues on. She could just give up, let herself rest and fix it no more. Why bother when it will just repeat? The strings beckon her like clockwork, each representing a connection to someone dear.. Sometimes in a gentle encouraging manner urging her to hang on just a little longer, sometimes harshly holding her in a vice-like grip..
“You have responsibilities left to do.”
But she was so tired.. This vicious cycle tore at her will, chipping away in each breaking.. No feeling is temporary, a quote she found solace in turns into a damning reminder of her eternal limbo.
The strings tighten, suffocating her. it does not let her rest..
The cause of her shattering is the reason why she keeps stitching herself back together, if she cut them all they would be free of her. has she done only harm in persisting? Were they holding her back? Or was she the opposite? Her family dragging her half-dead corpse. she yearns to meet halfway, she doesn’t want to sleep, not yet.
The sparks sputters dimming the room significantly, she picks up another piece and stitches, in practiced motion fueled by habit, as the light dies out.
“Meet me halfway, please..”
a plea uttered at a barren room.
“Stitching to the Flesh”
I gently continued to suture the damaged tissue, as gently as if she were still alive. She lay still and cold. Inhuman. Such is the way of death to turn the vibrancy of life to stony silence and stillness. Her tender skin too pale. I caressed her cheek. Soon.
I closed my eyes. I began to chant in a whisper. Calling. Calling to her spirit across the gulf that divided our world from the world of spirits. Calling her back to the land of the living. I opened my eyes and the wisps of pale blue light swirled around me. I concentrated on the bridge between us. The wisps coalesced into a humanoid shape, and finally into her form which now mirrored her body. Though invisible to the untrained eyes, her spirit didn’t hold the beauty she had in life. Part of her face was still missing, destroyed in the accident, and her soul mirrored her bodily injuries. Still to me, she was beautiful.
I reached out and touched her ghostly form. Then with my other hand reached out and rested it over her corpse’s heart. I began the incantation, the stitching of the soul to the flesh. Not the fusion of soul and flesh crafted by the birth of life. A stitching of dark arts. Stitching the soul to the dead flesh. Stitching the hole in my own heart from missing her touch and love.
I paused wondering to myself, is this selfish of me. To bind her once more to her old body out of my need to be with her. I turn to her soul and listen to the faint whispers of her voice. Her love for me binds her to me, but she doesn’t wish to return to the flesh. So, I end the spell there and unbind the stitching to the flesh.
Yet, her spirit remained with me. Loyal beyond even death itself. I smiled.
Heart Filled Box (Chronicles of The Dragon)
The circles were drawn, the vessel was prepared, and the knife was sharpened.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Thanatos asked, “No one is ever quite the same afterward. It’s not too late to back out.”
“I’m sure,” Keres answered.
She looked back at him then down at the knife.
“Second thoughts?” The smirk was obvious in his voice.
“No.” She began unbuttoning her shirt and tossed it aside before putting the tip of the knife to her chest.
“Be careful not to nick the bone. It could ruin the sign.”
“I know.” And she began cutting.
She was careful not to go too deep. Forget hitting bone, she didn’t need to reach the muscle. As long as the lines were clear and correct. And she didn’t need to weaken herself before the final step.
She could feel Thanatos watching her. Eager and curious. He’d said he’d only seen one person complete the ritual before. No mention of how many had failed. But she was his greatest student. She would surpass all his expectations.
The blood was pooling around her feet now and the blood loss was starting to get to her. Or maybe it was just nerves.
The circle was glowing, as was the vessel and the sigil in her chest. She let out breath of relief. She hadn’t messed it up.
“Congratulations,” he said, “Only one step left.”
She nodded, put the knife tip in the center of the design, right over her heart, and drove it in to the hilt.
Her breath left her and it was all she could do to remain standing.
The glow erupted from her chest, and swirled around like heavy smoke before being drawn into the vessel.
She coughed, but couldn’t inhale, fingers clenched around the handle. She focused only on standing as her life drained into the vessel.
When it stopped, she fell to her knees, ripped the knife out and gasped for air.
She heard his footsteps approach, and felt his hand on her shoulder. “Welcome to Lichedom.”
They Fight Crime
C. M. Weller
There’s thousands of stories in this dirty city. I must have told almost a hundred of them. Straight from the lips of the victim to law enforcement agents. I won’t bother you with the details.
They call me Nitty. I am a Necromantic Informant.
Others have ruder names. Tattybogle, muppet, dolly… because most of me is sticks and cotton and a hardy canvas. There’s a secret core of crystals, pastillage, and dragon ichor. Suffice to say, we’re rare. I always have a job to do.
They rush me to crime scenes because the best testimony comes from the dead when they’re fresh. There’s a REASON why my upper torso is surfaced with rubber.
It’s a nasty job, and I’m the one who has to do it.
This one was a simple homicide. Relatively clean, as far as murders go.
“Mannikin’s here,” said Hargraves. She hated me and didn’t mind who knew it.
I ignored her, following Danny’s directions to the stool. I sat, and handed off my head to him. It’s always weird, this part. Watching my body like a dream. I kind of zone out during all the questioning. It’s not my job to pay any attention to the details of the case. Most of the time.
“It was a stick man,” said the head. “A stick man with the head of my dead wife.”
Could that happen? I had no idea. But it was enough for me to be partnered with Hargraves, who was heading the investigation. My kind are rare.
Everyone thinks we know each other. Hargreaves included.
When the trouble started, I didn’t think. I put myself between it and her. I could be knocked to pieces without too much trouble. She could not.
She held my arms and legs while I sewed them back together. “Why? You didn’t have to.”
“It’s my heart.” I said. “Pastillage is made of glucose gum. So…”
“You’re a real sweet heart.”
In the Aftermath (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Ambrosius watched as Dara’s breastbone connected back together with his ribs. His body needed to be whole for the regenerative effects of vampirism to fully restore his body, so as long as his heart stayed in the lake…
He drew back his hand, but Dara took hold of it before it could return to Ambrosius’ side. The simultaneous cold chill and blazing heat of raw magic shot through his arm, and he failed to suppress a grimace at the sensation. Dara noticed and let go.
Ambrosius clenched and unclenched his affected hand, keeping his gaze away from Dara. “High amounts of raw magic are common during the first few weeks of undeath. Once your body fully stabilizes, your magic should return to a tolerable level as well.”
As an uncomfortable silence fell over the room, Ambrosius began to recite a suitable excuse for departing in his head. He would have to oversee the work on his main temple and finalize what his domains are, so he had to leave soon.
Dara broke the silence first, “Achmed told me about what happened the day I died.” He sat up and was about to take Ambrosius’ hand again, but stopped himself. “You did not have to search for my heart.”
Ambrosius’ shoulders tensed and a lump formed in his throat. He swallowed as quietly as he could before speaking, “I know. I should have reaped your soul first, but I was careless. And for that, I apologize.”
“I did not finish speaking.” Dara reached out, stopped himself, then reached for the shirt on the empty side of his bed. After wrapping it around one hand, he rested it on Ambrosius’ own hand. “The fact you went through the trouble to honor an old wish of mine means more than whatever afterlife I could have had. For that, I must thank you, my friend.”
Ambrosius took hold of the cloth-bound hand longer than he meant to. He returned it to Dara’s side. “Burial requests should be upheld. Now, I must take my leave.”
He turned and left before Dara could stop him.
By Constellasphere (repost from Private)
The soft, whispery hiss becomes rhythmic, constant. It continues on, as of a heartbeat that is beautifully flawed.
A line is engraved within the material. Even in it’s dark boundaries, there is still freedom to be had. God, there is so much that could be done; what step will be taken next?
Here, a slant is placed. One becomes many, until there is a sizable shape of them. In the present, it looks like nothing important. Just a bunch of diagonals of varying colours that have no significant meaning.
But with this decision, whether reckless or within reason, they are brought together.
Singular slashes become crosses; connections are made and hold together tightly. Memories are made as the threads go backwards to make something more. Time is irrelevant and everything; here in the beating heart of every life.
A singular undivided line becomes hundreds, and hundreds will become thousands. That is, the vision of the future can be seen. To be embraced, to be loved; yes, this is love. The world made of interlockingly unconditional love. Even through every flaw and fray, it is withstanding.
This mind of loneliness, which craves the ability to be held – to be uttered affectionately – will birth a miracle. Even through envy and the want to scream out, beauty is made. A world is born seemingly out of nowhere.
Uncertainty will cause a shaking, an anxiety from deep within a concave chest. But in that moment, where a clear vision can be seen, even this emptiness is filled.
That is all; the point is pulled tightly to tie it all together. There is a bright revelation, a moment to think back of the past. It is a blur; how did it reach this time? To be dazed by the awe of golden-layered memories, and to have the strength to look at them fondly. And to secure the past to this now, a knot is tied. The question is no longer there; a definite timeline has formed.
This tapestry is complete, and from a void, love continues to grow.
Tears are shed; the messy patchwork thought is beautiful.
The Warehouse Artificer: Healing
Sarah lay on her wooden worktable. She was also above herself, around herself, and scuttling all throughout herself. Safe to say, there was a fair bit of her missing. She lost her left leg and right arm in an attack while she was out in the nearby village. It was a miracle enough she crawled back home and onto the table. What she had planned next, if successful, could be a revolution in artificery and medicine! For now, her mind was not in her organic body, but in the crystalline core of her facility courtesy of a reasociation charm her sorcerer friend lent her. She trusted nobody with her body but herself. Her small friend circle besides, of course.
She piloted a handful of ant-like automatons through her warehouse. Searching for jars of spare essence, conductive minerals, and whatever else may be useful for her purposes. A couple hours pass, and she returns with boar hide, some dragon scales, and a box of pulleys, along with the last of her spare essence, she’d have to restock that when she got the chance, and some amethyst. Purple’s not really her color, but she can work with this. Now to get to work.
First, she dismantled one of her many drones, as she was running low on metal and currently couldn’t get more if she wanted. When that was done, she began to reassemble it into vaguely arm and leg shaped mechanisms. The leg had a hinged block for the foot, and the arm had only four fingers on the hand, but it would be fine. She can refine them once she’s mobile again. She flips her human body over and implants the drone’s power crystal into her back, between her shoulders. Once that’s set, she affixes the augments to their respective stumps. Then she woke up. “Ugh, gods….” She huffed, her friend had mentioned she might still be in the warehouse and drones if she woke up before the charm wore off. “Ah, well. At least I’ll be back in business soon.”
Healing takes Time (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
Lennah’s wing hurt. It had been hurting, since the incident. When the ship had been tossed around by something in the vacuum of space, she had been flung into a wall. To this day, she still felt her right wing sting.
She spent her entire free time in the training room, doing pushups, pullups and martial arts training with Zurian. She still hit ever target with her rifle and had enough stamina to run the length of the ship and back.
Yet, she still failed to fly.
“You have to give yourself time,” Zurian called up to her, as she stood behind a ramp.
“I need to practice.”
“Lennah, we’ve been over this. How many times have I taken you to Jackie to get you fixed up?”
“If you want to leave, feel free. I’ll schlep myself up.”
Zurian sighed and moved to the side, swiping their tail, but remained in the training room. Lennah knocked her toes on the ground and breathed deep. She had chosen her spot well. Despite the many obstacles and deliberately uneven ground of the training hall, she had found a ramp with a relatively flat plain in front of it, which she could land on.
Not that she’d need it. This time, she was ready. She ran forwards, up the ramp, gathering momentum and vaulted herself over the edge. She spread her wings, ignoring the searing pain in her right. She flapped them once, feeling herself glide through the room.
Until her right wing faltered. She tried to push through the pain, but the joint wouldn’t go far enough. She toppled in midair and crashed onto the hard ground.
“Argh!” she screamed, as she landed heavy on her already bruised body.
Within seconds, Zurian was by her side.
“Damn it, Lennah, what do I keep telling you?”
“Get off me!” she yelled and pushed them away.
She turned, trying to support herself, only to buckle under her leg.
“That’s it. You’re done for today.”
Lennah glared at Zurian.
“I’m done, when I can fly again!” she yelled in stubborn frustration.